2024 All-County Basketball: Jae’la Smith racked up stats, honors for Porter’s Chapel

Published 3:55 am Sunday, March 24, 2024

Last month, Porter’s Chapel Academy basketball coach Casey Fisher met with his counterparts in MAIS District 4-3A to divvy up the league’s awards.

One of the cases he was prepared to make was for Jae’la Smith as the district’s most valuable player, but there was no need. The coaches gave her not only that award, but the offensive and defensive player of the year awards as well — all without a debate.

“To be the triple crown winner in district, that says a lot. That says a lot about her all-around game,” Fisher said. “You’ve got to know these meetings. Everybody wants to push their player and no one said a word. There wasn’t an argument or nothing. She’s the triple crown winner.”

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Smith is now adding another award to her impressive resumé. The senior guard is the 2024 Vicksburg Post girls basketball Player of the Year for Warren County, again with no debate.

Smith averaged 26.9 points, 8.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 5.4 steals per game and made the All-MAIS Class 3A team.

“This was a good year. I really enjoyed it. Porter’s Chapel made me enjoy my senior year and my last year,” Smith said. “I’m grateful. Thank you to the Lord!”

Smith was an All-County selection in 2023 at Warren Central, where she averaged 15.2 points and 8.0 rebounds per game. She transferred to Porter’s Chapel and took her already-strong game to a dominant level.

Smith led the Lady Eagles in scoring in nearly every game, as well as most other statistical categories. She had three triple-doubles and covered four statistical categories — points, rebounds, assists and steals — in getting them.

She had six rebounds in one of her triple-doubles to just miss another rare feat of a quadruple-double.

“I did not know that I had triple-doubles until my coaches told me. I was shocked. I always wanted to get a quadruple-double,” Smith said.

Fisher, who was a star point guard at Southern Miss in the 1980s, said he was in awe of Smith’s multiple triple-doubles.

“Triple-doubles are hard to get. I don’t care what level you’re playing against. To get 30 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists, and she had 10 steals one night — she had a quadruple-double — that’s unheard of,” Fisher said. “The energy that it takes to do all that is remarkable. All my playing days, I think at USM I might have did it once. It was just amazing to watch Jae’la this year.”

While Smith was a prolific scorer, Fisher said Smith’s other eye-popping stats showed how capable she was with all of her skills.

Three other PCA players averaged at least seven points per game, which helped pad Smith’s assist total.

“The most impressive thing about Jae’la this year is she was unselfish. I told her to go score, but she helped other people score. They scored because Jae’la got them the basketball,” Fisher said. “I gave her free rein to do her thing and she got them the ball where they were effective. That told me that her floor skills were great, because it takes a little ability to get people the ball in the right spot.”

With Smith leading the way, Porter’s Chapel ripped through the regular season undefeated. It lost its last two games, in the MAIS Class 3A South State tournament and state tournament, but still won the District 4-3A championship.

Smith was an MAIS all-star in addition to her district accolades — she won the MVP award after scoring 25 points in the Class 2A-3A game — and has signed with Pearl River Community College.

“I always wanted to play ball in college. I want to keep rolling and push myself,” Smith said.

Fisher doesn’t think that’ll be a problem. He said Smith’s work ethic, love of the game, and all-around skill set should make her as successful at the college level as she was in high school.

“Jae’la loves basketball. That was the best part about coaching her,” Fisher said. “You have to run her out of the gym. She wanted to practice with the boys, and then she’d leave here and go work out somewhere else. She was just committed to playing basketball.”

Vicksburg Post Girls Basketball Players of the Year
2024 – Jae’la Smith, Porter’s Chapel
2023 – Layla Carter, Vicksburg
2022 – Destini Sims, Vicksburg
2021 – Yakia Burns, Porter’s Chapel
2020 – Destini Sims, Vicksburg
2019 – Aniya Sanders, Warren Central
2018 – Amber Gaston, Warren Central
2017 – Amber Gaston, Warren Central
2016 – Karry Callahan, Vicksburg
2015 – Karry Callahan, Vicksburg
2014 – Karry Callahan, Vicksburg
2013 – Ann Garrison Thomas, St. Aloysius
2012 – Ama Arkorful, Vicksburg
2011 – Donyeah Mayfield, Vicksburg
2010 – Donyeah Mayfield, Vicksburg
2009 – Sha’Kayla Caples, Warren Central
2008 – Sha’Kayla Caples, Warren Central
2007 – Sha’Kayla Caples, Warren Central
2006 – Sha’Kayla Caples, Warren Central
2005 – Cookie Johnson, Warren Central
2004 – Cookie Johnson, Warren Central
2003 – Cookie Johnson, Warren Central
2002 – JaQuita Benard, Warren Central
2001 – E.J. Willis, Porter’s Chapel
2000 – E.J. Willis, Porter’s Chapel
1999 – Catrina Frierson, Vicksburg
1998 – Catrina Frierson, Vicksburg
1997 – Cynthia Hall, Vicksburg
1996 – Lakeshia Blue, Warren Central
1995 – Tangie Cooper, Warren Central
1994 – Tangie Cooper, Warren Central
1993 – Tangie Cooper, Warren Central

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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